English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for a word that has the specific connotation/denotation about the speaker's ability to speak truthfully based on their knowledge of the subject that they are speaking about.

For example:

I cannot speak with _ about your legal problem, because I am not an attorney.

I'd like the word to render the phrase after the comma redundant.

share|improve this question
Please note: can not is not the same as cannot. You probably want the latter here. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 11 '11 at 16:54
truthiness, of course... – Tesserex Jan 11 '11 at 19:34
@Mr.ShinyandNew安宇: What? They're not the same? – Mitch Jan 20 '14 at 16:39

Authority would fit.

I cannot speak with any authority about your legal problem.

share|improve this answer

How about a simple "I am not qualified to..." or "I am not in a position to..."?

share|improve this answer
+1 for "I am not qualified". – psmears Jan 11 '11 at 20:31

"authority" would be a reasonable choice in your sentence. I would reword it to say "I can not speak authoritatively ..." though.

share|improve this answer
>I would reword it to say "I can not speak authoritatively ..." though.> I wouldn't personally, it's much less common than 'I cannot speak with any authority', not to mention the fact that it's something of a tonguetwister! – user3444 Jan 11 '11 at 16:24

I think perhaps you're looking for accuracy, rather than truthfulness. Were it truthfulness, I'd say perhaps "I can not speak forthrightly…"

Other than accuracy, I'd suggest authority.

share|improve this answer

My thought is: veracity. But the additional condition of not being a lawyer would negate the cannot, unless you really intended to say can not.

share|improve this answer

My first choice: "credibility". "Authority", already suggested, is also fine. Perhaps "reliably" as well.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.